Tuesday July 21st, 2015

Hailey Cannaday, a 16-year-old swimmer from Ohio, idolized Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps for the way he swam. But after she was diagnosed with cancer in ninth grade, Cannaday began to admire him for his perseverance and positive attitude as well.

In her first year swimming for her high school team, Cannaday's leg gave out while doing a flip turn. Doctors found a tumor in her left knee, and diagnosed osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.

Cannaday underwent surgery and chemotherapy, and can no longer run on her injured leg. But she can still swim, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation recently gave her the opportunity to share a pool with her idol.

To help her reach her goal of rejoining her high school team, Phelps invited Cannaday to train with him in Colorado. Phelps swam laps with her and coached her on flip turns, which have been among her biggest challenges in the pool.

At the end of the day, Phelps and Cannaday added their signatures to the pool-house wall, which was covered in scrawling messages from past and future Olympians. 

Phelps and Cannaday wrote, "Dreams do come true."

Phelps and Cannaday were featured on ESPN's "My Wish" series on Monday, in which athletes grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions through a partnership between ESPN and Make-A-Wish. It was not Phelps's first experience with Make-A-Wish, as he also granted the wish of a boy with muscular dystrophy in 2011.

- Erin Flynn

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